What's Eating the Universe?
And Other Cosmic Questions
by Paul Davies
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
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Pub Date 22 Sep 2021 | Archive Date 01 Sep 2021
In the constellation of Eridanus, there lurks a cosmic mystery: It’s as if something has taken a huge bite out of the universe. But what is the culprit? The hole in the universe is just one of many puzzles keeping cosmologists busy. Supermassive black holes, bubbles of nothingness gobbling up space, monster universes swallowing others—these and many other bizarre ideas are being pursued by scientists. Due to breathtaking progress in astronomy, the history of our universe is now better understood than the history of our own planet. But these advances have uncovered some startling riddles. In this electrifying new book, renowned cosmologist and author Paul Davies lucidly explains what we know about the cosmos and its enigmas, exploring the tantalizing—and sometimes terrifying—possibilities that lie before us.
As Davies guides us through the audacious research offering mind-bending solutions to these and other mysteries, he leads us up to the greatest outstanding conundrum of all: Why does the universe even exist in the first place? And how did a system of mindless, purposeless particles manage to bring forth conscious, thinking beings? Filled with wit and wonder, What’s Eating the Universe? is a dazzling tour of cosmic questions, sure to entertain, enchant, and inspire us all.
: “Brilliant. You won’t find a clearer, more engaging guide to what we know (or would like to know) about the universe and how it is put together.”
Philip Ball, author of Beyond Weird: Why Everything You Thought You Knew about Quantum Physics Is Different": “A whistle-stop tour of the major questions in contemporary cosmology.”
Priyamvada Natarajan, author of Mapping the Heavens: The Radical Scientific Ideas That Reveal the Cosmos:
“What’s Eating the Universe? is a veritable feast for curious minds. Davies, a polymath and lyrical writer, masterfully tackles all the big questions ranging from why this Universe to the meaning of life and the significance of the present moment—a whirlwind journey through ideas that have shaped our understanding of the cosmos and its constituents.”
Simon Mitton, University of Cambridge: “Davies has selected a wonderful potpourri of deep questions with incomplete answers. The result is a delightful fresh-smelling account of the cutting edge of modern cosmology. He is truly exceptional at explaining all of this in his inimitable style—let’s say ‘astropoetry.’”
John Gribbin: “What’s Eating the Universe? is Davies at his very best. He brings a lifetime of experience in explaining mysteries of space and time to offer thought-provoking essays on deep questions in bite-sized, easily digestible chunks. There is no better overview of the advances made by cosmologists in recent decades.”
A. C. Grayling: “Davies brings his customary lucidity to a survey of some of the most fascinating and puzzling aspects of our universe, simultaneously educating us about its vertiginous wonders and giving us a real sense of science’s questions as it confronts and explores them and wrestles with their mystery. It is an absorbing and stimulating read, one of the best of its kind.”
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 17 members
I liked this book. It was short, explained a lot of cosmology, and was fun to read. It covered territory I was already familiar with, but was still a fun read.
I am often drawn to books like this, but then I find, the author has written some dry, scholarly piece that is boring and difficult to understand. This book was as interesting as the best mystery, and in a way, it is like a mystery as it has taken centuries for the knowledge we now have about the universe to be discovered..
I love that Paul Davies has not only written about the latest discoveries, but has also included the names of people who have come before and worked to give us a basic background of information, and then moved on to those who built upon this knowledge.
I highly recommend this to anyone who wants to learn about this subject and for libraries everywhere, especially schools.
I am grateful to have received an advance copy of this book free of charge through NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The author did a fantastic job of transforming intensely difficult concepts in theoretical physics into an easily understood popular science book. And yet, while this book is a great overview for a non-physicist of the discoveries in theoretical physics to date and the current debates that have not yet been resolved, it is also a smooth-flowing overview of the current state of discovery/theory for someone like myself who has a graduate degree in applied physics but has been out of the field for a couple of decades.
I would enthusiastically recommend this to anyone with an interest in physics!
I really enjoyed this book about cosmology and all the big ideas we still don't have an answer to. The writing was very accessible for the layman and done in an easy, conversational style. I liked that the chapters were short as it kept each topic from feeling like it was bogged down in detail. This is a good book for any who have an interest in cosmology and astrophysics.
A truly original book, this short volume examines philosophical and even religious concepts using pure science. The author answers a series of questions, from basic physics to extraterrestrial life and even why we’re here. He explains some of the leading theories about black holes and the end of the universe. I’ve read a few books about similar subjects and some of the theses here were familiar, but examined in a totally new light. Paul Davies explains it all in easy-to-follow language. Many of the concepts sailed high above my head, but the examples he uses are relatable. I also enjoyed the illustrations, some of which made me understand parts that I hadn’t grasped just by reading.
I chose to read this book and all opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased. Thank you, NetGalley/University of Chicago Press!
This is an amazing “beginner friendly” book on astrophysics. The author provides a quick overview on the history of cosmology, it’s historical developments as well as the current unresolved scientific mysteries. It’s an interesting and engaging read. Even the most difficult concepts are explained in the accessible manner, and I recommend this book to anyone who always wanted to learn more about our universe and its secrets, but was intimidated by the heavy maths and science aspect of it. This is a perfect book to start you off. I read several of Hawkins’ books, as well as those of deGrasse Tyson, and, personally, I found this book to be the most “digestible” to me as a layperson. For those who are familiar with the popular concepts in astrophysics, this may be a good refresher. However, if you are looking for a deeper dive into quantum mechanics, string theory and cosmology, this may not be the right book for you.
A fascinating exploration of cosmic history and the forces that shape our universe. Some of this information is old, some is new, and some speculative. The author’s enthusiasm is apparent and one can’t help but feel a sense of awe while reading about the journey the greatest minds on the planet have taken in order to piece together a theory for how it all works. Interesting and a brisk read, Davies has written a great book for the lay-person. But don’t be intimidated by the scope of the topic, this book doesn’t ever take itself too seriously and there is just a sprinkle here and there of genuine Monty-Python style humor. A fun and entertaining examination of phenomenal cosmic forces.
What's Eating the Universe? by Paul C W Davies is a fun and informative look at the history and contemporary understanding of cosmological issues.
While this is not my area of study I have taken a few courses on the topic as well as other reading and found this to be a great read whether covering something I already (sorta) knew or something completely new to me. It is scientific without being bogged down in the minutiae that is more important to researchers than lay people. Davies also connects the science to the world at large, the thoughts and ideas within which discoveries have been made.
I think one of the strong points is the use of relatively short chapters that each cover a specific point. While the book is certainly coherent as a whole work I think it could also serve very well for a reader who wants to approach it as a collection of essays. By that I mean a reader could read several chapters but not feel like they will lose the thread of the book if they don't get back to it for a few days. Or, as I often do with collections of essays or short stories, read a chapter when I have a limited amount of time and want something self contained.
I would recommend this to any reader interested in the topic. It would make a nice introduction for someone or, if they already have some background, a nice overview to put everything in perspective.
Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
What’s Eating the Cosmos tackles some of the big questions in modern cosmology, beginning with the basics — how do we know what’s out there? Where is it, what is it made of? — and continuing onward to the more changing questions, those which stretch the limits of our imagination. Although Davies is dealing with heady topics, including the plausibility of time travel, the evaluation of the universe’s fate, and even why we have matter at all. Although I can’t pretend to fully understand all of the subjects discussed — relativity and quantum mechanics are demanding topics, to say the least — Davies’ writing is lucid, using clear illustrations, and provides an outline education that allows the reader to come away with a sense of having a better idea of the shape and fate of the universe.
This book is an accessible, easy-to-read history of cosmology that sums up the current state of the science and speculates about what might be to come. It also deals with some of the weirder possible phenomenon that might exist in or might affect our universe. The author is comfortable with mystery, with the unknown, with the process of searching. He acknowledges that some of the current popular theories might be wrong, even if they've got beautiful math working in their favor.
Thanks, NetGalley, for the ARC I received. This is my honest and voluntary review.
A very accessible and concise handbook of modern cosmology. It is clearly addressed to laymen and I found it engaging and easy to digest without a deeper understanding of physics. It also traces the history of the biggest scientific discoveries in this field, from ancient times to the present moment.
Recommended for fans of Bill Bryson (rather than Stephen Hawking).
Thanks to the publisher, University of Chicago Press, and NetGalley for an advanced copy of this book.
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